Clean Ocean Action

Urge NJ Governor Murphy to Sign the Recycled Content Bill into Law!

Single-use plastic items are polluting the ocean, waterways, and communities. Recycling can reuse some of this plastic material, but with low recycling rates the material is not getting recycled. Therefore, materials are not being made from recycled plastic and more items are being made from "new" plastic. Hopefully, with state action, this can change.

The "Recycled Content Bill" (S.2515) passed the NJ Senate and NJ Assembly on January 10 and will create a strong market for recycled plastic to reduce plastic pollution. This bill will stablish postconsumer recycled content requirements for rigid plastic containers, glass containers, paper and plastic carryout bags, and plastic trash bags. The bill also will prohibit the sale of polystyrene loose fill packaging (e.g., "packing peanuts"). 

We need your help!

NEXT STEP: We need YOU to make a quick call to urge Governor Murphy to sign the bill into law! Call the Governor's office at 609-292-6000.


What is the Recycled Content Bill (NJ S.2515/A.4676)

  • Proposed and championed by NJ Senator Bob Smith (NJ-17) (Middlesex and Somerset), also Chairman of the NJ Senate Energy and Environment Committee Senator, and co-sponsored by Senator Linda Greenstein (NJ-14) (Mercer and Middlesex)
  • Lead in the NJ Assembly by Prime Sponsors Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-20), Assemblywoman Mila Jasey (D-27), and Assemblyman John McKeon (D-27), and co-sponsor Clinton Calabrese (D-36)
  • The bill would require manufacturers of plastic, glass, and paper packaging and products to meet specified quantities of recycled content for all goods they sell in New Jersey.
  • The bill, if passed, establishes postconsumer recycled content requirements for rigid plastic containers, glass containers, paper and plastic carryout bags, and plastic trash bags. These items will be required to be made from recycled materials based on the schedule and timeline in the bill (varies by product/material type). Therefore, less materials will be made from virgin/new plastic, which is made from petroleum/fossil fuel resources.
  • The bill also prohibits sale of polystyrene (“Styrofoam”) loose fill packaging.
  • S.2515 passed in the NJ Senate and has been introduced and awaits consideration and action in the NJ Assembly (see alert above).
  • Momentum around minimum recycled content standards is accelerating, with support from the waste and recycling industries.


The Plastic Pollution Plague: New Jersey & Beyond


Plastics are a human-created boon and bane. While the benefits are many, the wasteful use of plastics, particularly for single-use items, has become a plague and is an ecosystem crisis.

  • Plastics are now found throughout world and are accumulating in all marine ecosystems.
  • Plastic marine litter eventually breaks down into smaller bits and ultimately becomes microplastics.
  • If plastic pollution continues at the current rate, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050.
  • Plastic pollution is killing, maiming, and harming marine life through ingestion or entanglement.
  • Plastic is now found in some seafood and sea salt.  The long-term human health risks are real.

Long After Use, Plastic is Forever

Most of the plastic used and consumed is used once. However, these products never completely go away – they can last for generations long after their single use.

  • According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the estimated decomposition rates of plastic debris found on coasts are: 
    • Foamed plastic cups: 50 years 
    • Plastic beverage holder: 400 years
    • Plastic bottle: 450 years
    • Fishing line: 600 years
    • Plastic grocery bag: 10 to 20 years

The Effect Plastics Have on the Environment

All our plastic waste is causing significant harm to ocean life:

  • For decades cases of sea birds feeding plastic food to chicks, and whales and sea turtles harmed or killed by plastic bags, have made the news. More recently, coral reefs have been found smothered by plastic bags and turtles have been found with straws jammed into their nostrils.
  • Marne debris is negatively affecting more than 800 animal species.
  • When plastic ingestion occurs, it blocks the digestive tract, gets lodged in animals’ windpipes cutting airflow and causing suffocation, or fills the stomach, resulting in malnutrition, starvation and potentially death.
  • Entanglement of species in marine debris is a global problem affecting at least 200 species. It can cause decreased swimming ability, disruption in feeding, life-threatening injuries, and death.  


Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic ranging in size from 5mm (a grain of rice) to microscopic.  They have been found in every corner of the planet—from NJ beaches to Arctic sea ice and from farm fields to urban air.  Sources are many, and include industrial pellets and clothes dryer vents.  Importantly, marine plastic is breaking down into microplastics and are being absorbed into the food chain.

Plastic Pollution in New Jersey

  Data from Clean Ocean Action’s Annual Beach Sweeps provide a snap-shot of the scope of the problem in New Jersey.





Plastic Bags




Plastic Straws




Foam Food Products

(cups, take-out containers, plates)





Foam Pieces




It is clear that our increasing use of plastics, especially single-use items, is causing irreparable damage to the environment.



An Overview of Global to Local Solutions

Ever increasing public opposition to the harm caused by plastic, especially single-use items, is resulting in actions to limit plastic consumption and waste to protect our coastal and marine ecosystems.


International Single-Use Plastics Regulations

  • In a 571-53 vote, the EU approved a measure to ban specific single use plastic items in 2018.
    • Under the proposed directive, items such as plastic straws, cotton swabs, disposable plastic plates and cutlery would be banned by 2021, and 90% of plastic bottle recycled by 2025.
  • Canada aims to ban single-use plastics by 2020
    • The government said it would undertake scientific analysis before determining which plastic products to ban as early as 2021. But Mr. Trudeau said Canada expected to follow the example of the European Union.
    • The ban will likely include plastic bags, straws, cutlery, plates, and stir sticks. 

Statewide Efforts

  • Vermont (S.113) - Bans single-use plastic bags, polystyrene food service products, plastic beverage stirrers, and single-use plastic straws upon request, effective in July 2020

  • California (SB.270) - Bans single-use plastic bags in 2016 (allows for thicker “reusable” plastic film bags), and first state to adopt statewide ban on plastic straws in 2018
  • Maine (LD.289) - 1st state to ban single-use polystyrene foam containers and later plastic bags, effective  April 22, 2020
  • Oregon (HB.2509) - Bans single-use plastic bags with a five-cent fee on paper & reusable bags and single-use plastic straws upon request, effective January 2020
  • New York (SB.1508) - 3rd state to ban single-use plastic bags, effective March 2020
  • Hawaii - 1st state to ban single-use plastic bags through a de facto ban in all counties  in 2015
  • Connecticut (Public Act 19-117, § 355) - 10-cent fee on plastic bags & eventual complete ban in 2021
  • Maryland (SB.285) - Bans all polystyrene foam food packaging, effective July 2020
  • Delaware (HB. 130) - Bans plastic bags effective January 2021

American Cities Ban Plastics

  • Washington, DC - Implemented a five-cent fee on paper and plastic bags in 2009; banned Styrofoam food serviceware in 2016; banned plastic straws and stirrers in 2018
  • Seattle, WA - Banned plastic bags in 2012; in July 2018, banned single-use plastic straws and utensils
  • Baltimore, MD - Banned plastic bags and added a five-cent fee for all other bags in 2020
  • Boston, MA - Banned plastic bags in 2017; includes five-cent fee on paper bags
  • San Francisco, CA - Banned plastic bags in 2007
  • Edmonds, WA - Banned plastic bags in 2009
  • Portland, OR - Banned plastic bags in summer 2011
  • Bellingham, WA - Banned plastic bags in 2011
  • New York City, NY - Banned polystyrene food containers in January 2019
  • Philadelphia, PA - Banned plastic bags in 2019

New Jersey Municipal Single-Use Plastics Ordinances

See the full list here!

  • New Jersey57 ordinances have been passed addressing single-use plastics.



Single-Use Plastics: Municipal Actions & More

Clean Ocean Action strongly urges municipalities to pass local ordinances addressing single-use plastic pollution. Currently, COA is aware of 57 municipalities that have adopted such ordinances.

These single-use plastic reduction ordinances are just a first step to reducing the plastic pollution that plagues our state and waterways and causes such harm and even death to marine life.

Is your municipality on the list below? If not, bring COA's model ordinances for banning single-use plastic straws, bags, polystyrene (Styrofoam) foam food containers, and utensils, or all of them in ONE (recommended), to your next council meeting and urge them to adopt it. 


42 municipalities + 2 counties – Passed and in effect

1.  Asbury Park – January 2020

2.  Atlantic County – August 2018

3.  Atlantic Highlands – November 2019

4.    Avalon – June 2019

5.    Bayonne – January 2020

6.    Beach Haven  – June 2019

7.    Belmar – May 2018

8.    Bradley Beach – January 2019

9.    Brigantine  – June 2019

10. Camden County January 2020

11. Chatham Borough – March 2020

12. Chatham Township – March 2020

13. Cranford - January 2020

14. Fair Haven - February 2020

15.  Garfield – January 2020 

16.  Glen Rock – January 2020

17. Harrington Park - January 2020

18.   Harvey Cedars– June 2018

19.   Highland Park – Phase One: May 2019, 10-cent fee on single-use plastic bags. Phase Two: November 2019, ban on single-use plastic bags and 10-cent fee on paper

20.   Hoboken – January 2019

21.   Hopewell – September 30, 2019

22.  Jersey City – June 2019

23.    Lambertville – January 2020

24.  Little Silver – October 2019

25.   Long Beach Township – May 2018

26.   Longport – December 2015

27.  Madison – March 2020

28.  Maplewood – July 2019

29.    Monmouth Beach – June 2018

30.  Montclair December 2019

31.  Ocean Gate – September 13, 2019

32.  Paramus – September 2020

33.  Parsippany-Troy Hills – January 2020

34.   Point Pleasant Beach – May 2018

35.   Ridgewood – January 2020

36.  Saddle Brook – January 2020

37. Sea Bright - January 2020

38. Secaucus – February 2020

39.  Somers Point – January 2019

40.  South Orange – January 2020

41.   Stafford Township – August 2018

42. Stockton Borough - February 2020

43.  Stone Harbor – June 2019  

44. Ventnor – October 2018

45. West Cape May - December 2019

46. Woodland Park – March 2020

11 municipalities – Passed and waiting to go into effect

1. Berkeley Heights - December 2020

2. Collingswood – April 2020

3.  Haworth – March 24, 2020

4. Leonia - June 1, 2020

5.  Long Branch – December 2020

6. Millburn – June 2020

7. Morris Township - July 2020

8. Red Bank – September 2020

9.  Summit – May 2020

10. Teaneck – July 2018 [ON HOLD]

11. Trenton – December 2020

Total: 57 ordinances

Click here to download!

Here is a list of the 25 total ordinances addressing single-use plastics around the state.

New Jersey Single-Use Plastic Reduction Ordinances


57 total plastic ordinances (as of February 2020)

  • 12 plastic bag bans

  • 2 plastic bag fees – no fee on paper 

  • 2 paper/plastic fees

  • 19 hybrid ordinances – bans plastic, places fee on paper

  • 22 multi-faceted ordinances (straws, bags, polystyrene)

  • At least 15 pending ordinances (drafted ordinance / under consideration)



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FAX: (732) 872-8041

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